Seeking Quality in the Practice of Law
by DOUGLAS O. LINDER and NANCY LEVIT (Oxford University Press, 2013?)

The Good Lawyer

About The Good Lawyer


Introductory Note

The Good Lawyer is Courageous

The Good Lawyer is Empathetic

The Good Lawyer Has a Passion for Justice

The Good Lawyer Values Others in the Legal Community

The Good Lawyer Uses Both Intuition and Deliberative Thinking

The Good Lawyer Thinks realistically About the Future

The Good Lawyer Serves the True Interests of Clients

The Good Lawyer Has Ample Willpower

The Good Lawyer is Persuasive


Random Facts

The Happy Lawyer

Excerpt from Chapter 10:
Seeking Quality


            Memory loss actually serves us well, at least to a point.  If we stored forever every single experience, no matter how trivial (assuming, for a moment, we had storage capacity enough to do this), we might lose our ability to frame a coherent life story, overwhelmed as we would be with the details piling up from every page, paragraph, and sentence of our pasts.  The very fragility of our memories helps shape how we see ourselves.

        What are you likely to remember from the thousands of days that made up your career?  Only a small percentage of your experiences as a lawyer are likely to be deeply encoded.  They are likely to be those intense experiences where your work aligned best with your values, where your strengths led to a workplace triumph, or where you shared a deep emotional connection with a client or a colleague.

      From our memories we construct the story of our careers.  The encoded fragments of our past experience, distorted and degraded over time, are woven together to form the core of our personal identity as a lawyer.  These stories—these career autobiographies—are more about meanings than they are about facts.  Our understanding of ourselves is an act of construction; it is a “subjective and embellished telling of the past.”   We make the history of our career; it has no existence in the physical universe.

        Our stories anchor us.  They allow us to savor the past, fully experience the present,  and anticipate the future.  Without an ability to travel in time our life would be, in the words of psychologist and neuroscientist Daniel L. Schecter, “psychologically barren—the equivalent of a bleak Siberian landscape.”

       This has been a book, in no small part, about how you can become the kind of lawyer who can someday look back with satisfaction on your legal career.  It is not a guide to being a successful lawyer, if success is measured by win-loss records, fame, or financial reward.  It also offers no promises of finding greater happiness in your career, though that might be a welcome side-effect from following some of its suggestions.  At career’s end, you will ask yourself, “Was I a good lawyer?”  Your memories will provide the answer.  Your good work will create the memories.